Earthquakes are one of the many natural disasters. Indonesia is known for frequent earthquakes, the most recent being in Southern Sumatra, on 30th September 2009. Although disaster risk assessments have been done and several mitigation responses have been instituted, the earthquakes still cause severe consequences to the affected community in terms of loss of lives, causing severe injuries, destruction of the infrastructure such as the buildings, roads, bridges, schools, medical facilities. This destruction is usually so grave that resources from within and outside the country are often required urgently to alleviate the suffering of the affected community. Among the health effects that occur from earthquake are both immediate and long term in nature. The short term affects include, deaths, injuries, disruption of health services and social disruption, potential for epidemic outbreaks due to overcrowding. The long-term effects include psychological disorders.


1.1 Identification of the hazard and its consequences:

The hazard was identified by the Indonesian government who realized that she did not have the capacity to effectively respond to earthquakes. They requested for local and foreign aid. Furthermore earthquakes cause a lot of infrastructural damage (fig. 1), deaths and injuries.

1.2 The resources locally available.

Among the resources that are available locally are the local community, government agencies like the army, as well as local NGOs and international organizations such as the Red Cross.

1.3 The additional resources needed.

Given the potential magnitude of earthquakes, the required resources for emergency relief include shelter (tents), medical supplies, strengthened leadership to coordinate the services, logistics, supplies and distribution of water and sanitation supplies to all beneficiaries to avoid outbreak of waterborne diseases. In addition, emergency food supplies are required.

1.4 The local stakeholders/partners that would be involved in any response

The local stakeholders to be involved are the health workers (doctors, midwives, nurses) the army, the local community and local NGOs and international agencies such as the Red Cross, World Food Program and WHO.

1.5 Identify what actions can be taken in advance to prepare for this hazard.

The actions that can be taken in advance to prepare for this hazard would include planning for disasters. The plan includes Hazard Risk Assessment to predict their potential severity and likelihood, and the geographical locations that are at increased risk. The plan also should include the mitigation, and response actions. The mitigation activities would include activities such as sensitizing the communities about the disaster and the actions to take before it has occurred, budgets for such activities. However at the national level, the planning for disasters should be embedded in development policies across all sectors and the planning should be multi-sectoral, e.g. geology, housing, education, health, gender etc. This is because disasters are unpredictable in most cases and the consequences cut across all sectors. Furthermore the mitigation and response activities require a lot of resources, so it is imperative that all sectors include it in their budgets. Another important activity is to have a national coordination body to provide leadership.

1.6 Vulnerable groups of the population.

All people are at risk because the casualties are mostly due to collapsing buildings. In addition, it is usually the women, children and the elderly that are more vulnerable.


2.1 Planning for the Interagency Rapid Needs Assessment

Post disaster needs assessment is a crucial activity in disaster response because it enables assessment extent of the: damage, needs, vulnerabilities and capacities for developing effective strategies for response, reconstruction and recovery.

In the aftermath of an earthquake, we would start by contacting the co-ordinating office and identifying the other stakeholders. Together with the other stakeholders we will have urgent consultative meetings to plan for the activities for the Rapid Needs assessment. Planning is important because it enables one to identify the resources required for the exercise (time, human and finances). Furthermore it helps to spell out the exact roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder as well as identification of the coordination mechanisms. It is also during planning meetings that the Implementation plans of the needs assessment will be drawn emphasizing the urgency of the results.

With the other stakeholders we shall discuss the objectives of the assessment which will be include among others : To establish the needs, the existing capacities, the resources required, population affected, the ones at risk, the extent of the damage, (physical, deaths, infrastructure, hospitals, etc) needs (relief, water, food, medical emergencies, shelter, )

2.2 Data Collection Strategies:

The information from this assessment is for rapid decision making and should be timely, relevant and accurate for use during the acute phase of the disaster. So the planning for the assessment will be during the first 72hrs. We would use informal assessment methodology employing mainly qualitative methods of data collection. The methods will include:

  • Direct observation of the physical infrastructures (e.g. buildings, roads, bridges)

  • Physical headcounts of the survivors and the injured

  • Key informant interviews with the opinion leaders and surviving providers

  • Take photographs (still and aerial photography)

  • Review of records from other agencies on the pre-disaster population demographics and infrastructure present

  • Review of secondary data and reports from the national data sources or from reports of other agencies that have experience in similar work that we are doing.

The quantitative data collection methods will consist of surveys of a sample of members of the community.

The accuracy of the information is critical, so to achieve this we shall ensure that competent people are identified to collect data. The team will comprise of both generalists, and technical people. Among the technical people will be health professionals, epidemiologists, public health specialists and social scientists, while the generalists will be people from the same area who might have been involved in similar assessment before. To avoid information bias so that accurate and reliable information is obtained, the process should be culturally sensitive. To achieve this we will use people who know the local language, culture and will also ensure gender balance gender.

We would have daily meetings with the data collection team to discuss any issues arising and act upon as need arises in collaboration with the coordination office for them to take appropriate actions with the responsible stakeholders.

2.3 Data analysis:

This will be done during both data collection as well as after. During the data collection period, it will be done during the daily meetings where issues will be discussed and conclusion made. In case urgent action needs to be taken, then it will be done accordingly. The comprehensive data analysis would be done at the end of the data collection. The conclusions and recommendations will be made following the objectives of the assessment. Below are some of the expected results of the assessment:

  1. Geographical areas affected

  2. Extent of the damage of houses, infrastructure including roads, telecommunication, hospital, water supply system,

  3. Demography of the population affected

  4. Capacity of the hospitals: structures, health workers in place, the number and type of cases they are seeing , the amount of supplies available e.g. blood

  5. Morbidities being seen at the health facility

  6. Organization of the hospital services

  7. Gaps indentified

  8. Recommendations: resources required to cover the identified gaps and possible source of the resources

2.4 Dissemination of the findings:

Dissemination of the information should be done immediately after the analysis; this can be done through a formal meeting which should be convened by the coordinating office. The meeting should involve all stakeholders. At the end of the meeting, our organization and the other stakeholders will draw disaster response/relief plans of action together, indicating our roles and responsibilities and the focal person, who will be communicating directly with the coordination office and the other focal persons.

2.5 Assumptions:

Among the assumptions are

  • that the data from previous reports are available,

  • that the required resources to carry out the needs assessment are available,

  • that there is an inter-agency disaster coordination body operating at the national level that is available and functional, and

  • that the local expertise to carry out the assessment and do report writing is available.

2.6 The response plan:

The response we would plan for the earthquake will basically be guided by the results of the rapid needs assessment. However we would do this in collaboration with the other stakeholders that are working in the area of health. The way we would go about this would be through consultative meetings with the coordinating office as well as the other stakeholders. Through review of the reports and available resources, we would then devise an implementation plan. We would also prioritise the activities.

Last modified: Wednesday, 16 January 2013, 4:51 AM